Designers are builders 2 – DIY Portable herb garden

Number 2 in the “Designers are builders too” series (hopefully with many more to come). For my wife’s birthday I designed and built an elevated portable herb garden. As apartment dwellers we have had a number of potted plants that have traveled with us as we moved and eventually died. I wanted to make something that was easy to assemble and disassemble and looked good. If have have read my blog before you know I like block type architecture with wood and metal or glass. I have tried to make a simple yet functional structure that followed this model. Here it is. I really enjoyed the project and it was pretty easy to do. If you are interested in building your own garden instructions are below. The estimated cost was around $100- soil and all. Enjoy.

Abrentisart DIY Portable herb garden

Abrentisart DIY Portable herb garden


1)  Materials: I am all about simplicity and minimizing waste so first thing is to get (2) 8 foot treated 4×4 studs and cut them in half giving you (4) 4×4 legs. Next get (2) 8 foot 2×4 studs mark every 26 inches and cut – you will get (3) 26 inch pieces and (1) scrap piece from each stud giving you a total of (6) 26 inch 2×4. Next buy (16) 6″ long 5/8″ bolts, (32) 5/8″ washers and (16) 5/8″ nuts for your bolts. One box of 2 1/2″ deck screws, a 24″x36″ plastic concrete mixing tub (usually found in the building section of your local hardware store) and Thompson’s water seal.



2) Mark and drill holes: Mark each end of (4) of the 2×4’s, 1 3/4″ down & 1 3/4″ in (place 2 aside for your cross beams). Using a 3/4″ drill bit drill through the 4 marked studs.


Mark each of (4) of the 4×4’s. Here you are going to mark two holes on the front of the stud and two holes on the side of the stud. On the front mark 20″down from the top and in the middle of the stud (1 3/4″ in) then 12″up from the bottom and in the middle of the stud (1 3/4″ in). On the side mark 23 1/2″down from the top and in the middle of the stud (1 3/4″ in) then 15 1/2″up from the bottom and in the middle of the stud (1 3/4″ in). Do this for all four. Using a 3/4″ drill bit drill through the stud. (Very important: wear some sort of protective mask when drilling treated wood. It contains chemicals that can harm you- this keeps it from getting eaten or rotting.)

Using a 1/2″ bit, drill numerous holes in the black tub. Just space them out. Figure how many plants you are going to try to put in the tub and drill one hole at least for each. See what i did below.


3) Treat wood: Seal the wood using your water seal.

4) Assembly: Having more than just yourself is recommended for assembly. Take one of the 4×4’s, stand it up. Establish the front. Take one of the 4″ long 2×4’s and attach to the 4×4. Place a bolt with one washer through the 2×4 and 4×4, add another washer and hand tighten nut. Do this for each: (2) 4 foot 2×4’s for the front, (2) for the back and (2) 26″ 2×4’s for each side. The structure will be wobbly until the nuts and bolts are fully tightened.


Mark the top front and back 4 foot 2×4’s at 12″ and 15 1/2″ in from each end. You have just marked where your crossbeams will lie. Have your helper hold the cross beam flat in place and drill deck screw to attach studs (use two screws per side of each stud – using 8 total screws in all).


5) Plant: Place your black  tub centered on the crossbeams, fill with potters soil and plants of your choice.


6) Added: As you might have noticed I have left the legs tall, this was intentional. We plan on adding a shade cloth to the top to protect the plants from the intense part of the day and plan on making a roof of sorts so when it rains so the delicate plants will not be destroyed. Also, there is some debate in what type of pots are better – plastic, terra cotta or fiberglass. The only thing I have heard about plastic is that it gets very hot in the sun, and in turn, heats up the soil basically cooking the roots of the plants. I am not sure if this is true or not but I have a solution. By simply adding plywood siding you can protect the plastic tub from the direct sunlight and save your roots. Thanks for reading, happy building!

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